Graduate Degrees in Film & Media Studies


Students listen to a guest speaker at the Film Rally.

The Master of Arts (MA) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Film & Media Studies both specialize in theory and analysis of film and media. However, students must also complete courses in film and video production.

The Master’s degree is a two-year studies and research-based program, while the PhD takes four years to complete. FMS graduate students earning a master’s degree must write a thesis to conclude their studies. PhD students must write and defend a dissertation that contributes knowledge in the candidate’s chosen field.

The Graduate Certificate is designed for graduate students whose research includes analysis of media text and technologies. It provides training in film and media methods and theory in both a historical and a contemporary context. You must apply for graduation during your final semester of certificate coursework. Certificates cannot be granted retroactively. 

Accordion

Non-degree seeking (NDS) students must have completed a bachelor’s degree with demonstrated academic competence in Film and Media studies or a related discipline. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Admission Requirements for NDS students

  • Proof of Bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited university or a foreign university with substantially equivalent degree requirements including official transcripts from each college attended. College credit for work experience that was not supervised by a faculty member (e.g., life experience) or which was not evaluated in units that identify the academic content (e.g., Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading) may or may not be accepted.
  • Personal Statement of Academic Intent where you specify which courses you intend to take. Not all courses are open to non-degree seeking students and enrollment as an NDS student does not guarantee that you’ll be accepted into the graduate program. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more details.
  • Proof of English proficiency

If an NDS student later applies for admission as a degree-seeking student and is accepted by a department, the total of transfer credit may not exceed nine (9) hours.

Graduate Curriculum Requirements

See which courses are required to fulfill your degree.

Core Requirements (30 hours)

Students will complete 9 credits of Film and Media Studies Core, 3 credits of Production courses, 3 credits of FMS 902, 3 credits of Film and Media electives, 6 credits of non-FMS electives related to their chosen thesis topic and 6 credits of thesis hours. All courses should be selected in consultation with the advisor.

  • FMS 800 Introduction to Graduate Study in Film/Media (taken the first semester)  3 hours

  • FMS 862 Survey of Film and Media History  3 hours

  • FMS 865 Contemporary Film and Media Theory  3 hours

  • FMS 902 Film Seminar in: _____  3 hours

  • Production: One graduate level (600 or above) FMS production class in consultation with advisor  3 hours

  • Select 9 hours of courses including: 3 credits of FMS graduate level courses at the 600 level or above, 6 credits of non-FMS electives at the 500 level or above.  9 hours

  • FMS 899 Master's Thesis  6 hours

Core Requirements (18 hours)

Doctoral students in film and media studies must take a core of courses aimed at strengthening methodological, historical, and theoretical grounding. 1 graduate-level production course is required, and 1 course in FMS 902 Film Seminar is mandatory.

  • FMS 800 Introduction to Graduate Study in Film/Media  3 hours
  • FMS 801 Professional Development Seminar (repeated for 6 credits)  6 hours
  • FMS 862 Survey of Film and Media History  3 hours
  • FMS 865 Contemporary Film and Media Theory  3 hours
  • FMS 902 Film Seminar in: _____ (Special Topics)  3 hours
  • Electives: Select 9 hours of FMS electives in consultation with advisor.  9 hours
  • Secondary field: Select 9 hours in consultation with advisor  9 hours
  • Production: Select one of the following: 
    • FMS 675: Problems in Basic Video Production  3 hours
    • FMS 702: Graduate Seminar in:_______  3 hours
    • FMS 773: Problems in Intermediate Screenwriting  3 hours
    • FMS 895: Intensive Film Project Seminar  3 hours
    • FMS 897: Practicum in Film  3 hours

Film and Media Studies Professional Development Requirement (6 hours)

Six hours of FMS 801 are required. This will be satisfied by attending the FMS colloquia throughout the semester. (One day per week each semester)  

Elective Requirements (9 hours) 

Elective courses focus on the academic study of history, international cinema, popular culture, and film criticism. These courses are selected with a graduate advisor to reflect the student’s special interest. The advisor may increase the number of hours, depending on the student’s academic needs.

Production Requirements (3 hours)

Production courses give students an understanding of the production process in making film, video, or animation pieces. On graduation, doctoral students can perform as competent artisans in addition to research scholars. Production courses are selected with a graduate advisor to reflect the student’s specific interest. The advisor may increase the number of hours, depending on the student’s academic needs.

Secondary Field Requirements (9 hours)

Nine hours of secondary field courses at the graduate level from outside the Department of Film and Media Studies are chosen to assist the student in writing the dissertation. They are related to the student’s proposed area of specialization. Examples include English; History; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; American Studies; Education; and Social Welfare.

Additionally, students will select their second Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship from their secondary field.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship (6 hours) 

KU requires all doctoral students to meet the Research Skills requirement before proceeding to comprehensive exams. Compliance with this policy requires all graduate students to receive training in responsible scholarship pertinent to the field of research and obtain research skills pertinent to the doctoral level of research in their field(s).

Research Skills requirements may be satisfied by:

  • FMS 902 Film Seminar in: _____ (with the topic of "Research Methods  and Applications of New Media" or "Visual Methods") 3 
  • An additional RSRS course outside of the department, approved by the Director of Graduate Study, preferably from the student's secondary field 3

 Comprehensive Examination

Two publishable papers are due at the time of the examination. The examination includes on-site written responses to questions in history, theory, and area of specialization, followed by an oral examination.

Dissertation

Students who have completed the comprehensive exam are required to enroll in accordance with the post-comprehensive enrollment policy. The finished dissertation must constitute a palpable contribution to knowledge in the candidate’s chosen field. After its completion, an oral defense must be held no less than 4 weeks before the graduation deadline. The exam committee must meet Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee composition requirements.

Requirements

4 Courses/12 Credit Hours of Coursework in Film and Media Studies:

  • FMS 862: Survey of Film and Media History  3 hours
  • FMS 865: Contemporary Film and Media Theory  3 hours
  • Any two Film and Media Studies courses 700-level or above (excluding Production courses)

Core Requirements (30 hours)

Students will complete 9 credits of Film and Media Studies Core, 3 credits of Production courses, 3 credits of FMS 902, 3 credits of Film and Media electives, 6 credits of non-FMS electives related to their chosen thesis topic and 6 credits of thesis hours. All courses should be selected in consultation with the advisor.

  • FMS 800 Introduction to Graduate Study in Film/Media (taken the first semester)  3 hours

  • FMS 862 Survey of Film and Media History  3 hours

  • FMS 865 Contemporary Film and Media Theory  3 hours

  • FMS 902 Film Seminar in: _____  3 hours

  • Production: One graduate level (600 or above) FMS production class in consultation with advisor  3 hours

  • Select 9 hours of courses including: 3 credits of FMS graduate level courses at the 600 level or above, 6 credits of non-FMS electives at the 500 level or above.  9 hours

  • FMS 899 Master's Thesis  6 hours

Core Requirements (18 hours)

Doctoral students in film and media studies must take a core of courses aimed at strengthening methodological, historical, and theoretical grounding. 1 graduate-level production course is required, and 1 course in FMS 902 Film Seminar is mandatory.

  • FMS 800 Introduction to Graduate Study in Film/Media  3 hours
  • FMS 801 Professional Development Seminar (repeated for 6 credits)  6 hours
  • FMS 862 Survey of Film and Media History  3 hours
  • FMS 865 Contemporary Film and Media Theory  3 hours
  • FMS 902 Film Seminar in: _____ (Special Topics)  3 hours
  • Electives: Select 9 hours of FMS electives in consultation with advisor.  9 hours
  • Secondary field: Select 9 hours in consultation with advisor  9 hours
  • Production: Select one of the following: 
    • FMS 675: Problems in Basic Video Production  3 hours
    • FMS 702: Graduate Seminar in:_______  3 hours
    • FMS 773: Problems in Intermediate Screenwriting  3 hours
    • FMS 895: Intensive Film Project Seminar  3 hours
    • FMS 897: Practicum in Film  3 hours

Film and Media Studies Professional Development Requirement (6 hours)

Six hours of FMS 801 are required. This will be satisfied by attending the FMS colloquia throughout the semester. (One day per week each semester)  

Elective Requirements (9 hours) 

Elective courses focus on the academic study of history, international cinema, popular culture, and film criticism. These courses are selected with a graduate advisor to reflect the student’s special interest. The advisor may increase the number of hours, depending on the student’s academic needs.

Production Requirements (3 hours)

Production courses give students an understanding of the production process in making film, video, or animation pieces. On graduation, doctoral students can perform as competent artisans in addition to research scholars. Production courses are selected with a graduate advisor to reflect the student’s specific interest. The advisor may increase the number of hours, depending on the student’s academic needs.

Secondary Field Requirements (9 hours)

Nine hours of secondary field courses at the graduate level from outside the Department of Film and Media Studies are chosen to assist the student in writing the dissertation. They are related to the student’s proposed area of specialization. Examples include English; History; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; American Studies; Education; and Social Welfare.

Additionally, students will select their second Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship from their secondary field.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship (6 hours) 

KU requires all doctoral students to meet the Research Skills requirement before proceeding to comprehensive exams. Compliance with this policy requires all graduate students to receive training in responsible scholarship pertinent to the field of research and obtain research skills pertinent to the doctoral level of research in their field(s).

Research Skills requirements may be satisfied by:

  • FMS 902 Film Seminar in: _____ (with the topic of "Research Methods  and Applications of New Media" or "Visual Methods") 3 
  • An additional RSRS course outside of the department, approved by the Director of Graduate Study, preferably from the student's secondary field 3

 Comprehensive Examination

Two publishable papers are due at the time of the examination. The examination includes on-site written responses to questions in history, theory, and area of specialization, followed by an oral examination.

Dissertation

Students who have completed the comprehensive exam are required to enroll in accordance with the post-comprehensive enrollment policy. The finished dissertation must constitute a palpable contribution to knowledge in the candidate’s chosen field. After its completion, an oral defense must be held no less than 4 weeks before the graduation deadline. The exam committee must meet Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee composition requirements.

Requirements

4 Courses/12 Credit Hours of Coursework in Film and Media Studies:

  • FMS 862: Survey of Film and Media History  3 hours
  • FMS 865: Contemporary Film and Media Theory  3 hours
  • Any two Film and Media Studies courses 700-level or above (excluding Production courses)

Timelines

See a sample timeline for completing your FMS graduate program. 

Program Course Requirements

The Film and Media Studies MA is a two-year, 30 credit graduate program that requires:

  • 12 credit hours in core courses (FMS 800, FMS 862, FMS 865, FMS 902)
  • 3 credits of Production courses
  • 3 credits of FMS electives
  • 6 credits of non-FMS courses
  • 6 credits of FMS thesis hours

Most of your courses should be at the 700 level or above to qualify for Graduate Credit.

Year One: Coursework, Thesis Research and Writing

Semester 1 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 800 (3 hours)
  • Elective, Core, or Production Course (3 hours) 

Required Milestones

  • Attend orientation and enroll in FMS 800 during your first semester
  • Research potential faculty advisors within FMS
  • Attend colloquia

Semester 2 Courses and Requirements

Courses

Choose three courses:

  • Elective, Core, or Production Course (3 hours each)

Required Milestones

  • Select an advisor and meet with advisor twice per semester
  • Select a thesis topic and identify electives to support thesis research with advisor
  • Begin thesis research/writing
  • Attend colloquia

Optional Tasks

  • Professional Development: Conference presentations or attendance

Year Two: Coursework, Writing, and Thesis defense

Semester 3 Courses and Requirements

Courses

Choose three courses:

  • Elective, Core, or Production Course (3 hours each)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with advisor twice per semester
  • Assemble your thesis committee
  • Continue thesis research and writing
  • Submit thesis draft to your advisor
  • Schedule thesis defense for fourth semester
  • Attend colloquia

Optional Tasks

  • Professional Development: Conference presentations or attendance
  • Post-graduate planning

Semester 4 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • Thesis hours (6 hours)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with advisor twice per semester
  • Attend colloquia
  • Thesis revisions and prepare for final defense
  • Complete any required thesis revisions after your defense
  • Apply for graduation and meet requirements on COGA MA Graduation Checklist
  • Attend School of Arts Convocation Recognition Ceremony

Optional Tasks

  • Professional Development: Conference presentations or attendance
  • Post graduate planning

Program Course Requirements

The Film and Media Studies PhD is a four-year graduate program that requires:

  • 18 credit hours in core courses (3 credits of which will satisfy RSRS requirements) which include FMS 800, FMS 801 (6 credits), FMS 862, FMS 865, FMS 902
  • 9 credit hours in electives
  • 3 hours in production courses
  • 9 credit hours of secondary field courses (3 credits must meet RSRS requirements)

After the above 39 credit hours are complete, students are required to enroll in dissertation hours until they complete their degree.

Additional Information

  • Students are expected to spend two years completing coursework and two years writing their dissertation.
  • Most of your courses should be at the 700 level or above to qualify for Graduate Credit.
  • After completing the oral comprehensive exam, doctoral students are required to be continuously enrolled each Fall and Spring semester until completion of the degree as described in the post-comprehensive enrollment policy.

Year One: Coursework

Semester 1 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 800 (Intro to Graduate Studies) (3 hours)
  • FMS 801 (1 hour)
  • Choose two: Elective, Core, or Production Course (3 hours each)

Required Milestones

  • Attend orientation
  • Enroll in FMS 800 during your first semester
  • Research Secondary Field course options

Semester 2 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • Choose three: Elective, Core, Production or Secondary Field Course (3 hours each)
  • FMS 801 (1 hour)

Required Milestones

  • Select a faculty advisor. Meet with advisor twice per semester.
  • Select Secondary Field coursework with advisor
  • Begin to research conference attendance and presentation opportunities

Year Two: Coursework, Dissertation Research & Comprehensive Exam

Semester 3 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 801 (1 hour)
  • Choose three: Elective, Core, Secondary Field, or Production Course (3 hours each)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with faculty advisor twice per semester.
  • Semesters 3 and 4: Make at least one conference presentation or attend at least 1 conference.
  • Assemble Comprehensive Exam committee and reading list the semester before comprehensive exam
  • Begin dissertation prospectus research
  • Assemble prospectus and final defense committee

Semester 4 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • Choose two: Elective, Core, Secondary Field, or Production Course (3 hours each)
  • FMS 801 (1 hour)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with faculty advisor twice per semester.
  • Semesters 3 and 4: Make at least one conference presentation or attend at least 1 conference.
  • Complete RSRS requirements by end of fourth semester
  • Comprehensive Exam by end of fourth semester of enrollment
  • Continue dissertation/prospectus research
  • Defend dissertation prospectus within three months of completing oral comprehensive exam

Year Three: Dissertation Research, Prospectus, Writing

Semester 5 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 999 Dissertation hours (5 hours)
  • FMS 801 (1 hour)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with faculty advisor twice per semester.
  • Defend dissertation prospectus within three months of completing oral comprehensive exam
  • Continue dissertation writing/research

Semester 6 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 999 Dissertation hours (5 hours)
  • FMS 801 (1 hour)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with faculty advisor twice per semester.
  • Dissertation research/writing

Year Four: Writing, Revisions, Dissertation Defense

Semester 7 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 999 Dissertation hours (6 hours)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with faculty advisor twice per semester.
  • Complete dissertation drafts and prepare to defend
  • Consider post-graduation plans

Optional Tasks

  • Apply for dissertation fellowships
  • Attend conferences

Semester 8 Courses and Requirements

Courses

  • FMS 999 Dissertation hours (6 hours)

Required Milestones

  • Meet with faculty advisor twice per semester.
  • Schedule dissertation defense
  • Complete dissertation revisions
  • Job search
  • Apply for graduation and meet COGA Doctoral Graduation Checklist
  • Attend School of the Arts Convocation Recognition Ceremony

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